Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Unlikely Contributor

Last week, my Wednesday Night basketball league wrapped up it's season with the consolation and then championship games.  Fortunately, my team was one of the teams that was playing in the championship game.

My team came out of the gate a little slow but made a big third quarter run and we eventually won 72-63.  It was a sweet moment for the team and for me personally.

After a frustrating fall season where I missed most of the season due to injury, I was able to contribute 9 points (4-7 FG, 1-2 FT) 4 rebounds, and 1 assist in the championship game win.  The points were crucial in keeping my team in the game in the second quarter when we were slumping a bit.

Considering I had not played for over 2 months, the fact that I was shooting well was great!  I had not counted on playing at all this season.  However, my injury had healed enough that I felt good enough to return to brief action the week before and contribute more fully last week.

The championship title was the 5th for me in this particular league and 3rd overall this year.  So while the injury was frustrating, the ending was beautiful and adds another story I can talk about in the years to come!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Many years ago, I started a tradition of "giving thanks" by writing an email to various friends.  With the growth of the Internet, I've taken to posting my thanks on my blog.  So for 2013, here are some things to be thankful for:

Mom and Dad.  There are things going on that my mom has to deal with.  It hasn't been easy for my Dad and I but I am fortunate they are both doing ok for the most part.  We go through ups and downs with our parents but at the end, you still love them because they raised you.

My "Twin Friend"(They know who they are).   My twin and I talk to each other a lot.   Some times we just talk briefly due to time and other things.  Some days are serious and some days are not.  The main thing is we talk to see how the other person is and provide some friendly company to the other.  In this day and age of texting and social media, it's easy to feel disconnected.  My friend and I are far from that.

My "Old College Friend".  Even though things have been busy on my friend's end lately (having a baby does that), we chat via email and text.  When we do see each other, we pick up like nothing's changed.  Just a sign of a great friend when we can do that.

Canon Rebel XSI / EOS 70D / Point and Shoot / iPhone 4 - I've always taken a lot of photographs in the past.  It's been in the past few years that I started learning the art / technique of manual photography.  It took some time, but I am finally grasping a few things.  But even though I am learning a different way of photography, I still do "regular" auto photography as well.  Thanks to my old XSI for being the first DSLR I had.  Even though it's old, I still use it for the majority of my shots.  My new 70D (plus lens) is used for basketball shots at the moment.  My iPhone and Canon Point and Shoot still serve a purpose for quick shots when I don't want to lug my DSLR's around.

My old guy friends (aka "Downtown Work Guys") - I've known all of these guy friends for years.  Interestingly enough we all work downtown now and we have lunch every now and then.

ABC Basketball League - I've been injured for much of the fall basketball season so i haven't played and haven't been as present during the fall.  However, the league is still a great place to drop by and catch up with people.  It's a basketball league but also a social center for many people from different places.  A very unique league that I am glad to be associated with.

I'm sure there are a lot of other things, but let's stop here for now.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Basketball (Or Sports) Doesn't Define Me

It's been quite a few years since I've had an injury that caused me to miss a significant amount of time playing basketball (or sports in general).  As I blogged last time, the injury itself is annoying but hardly worth complaining about.  I've got a friend who has more things to worry about that my measly injury.

In fact, in some ways, the injury has given me time to "rediscover myself" a little bit.  I definitely love playing basketball, sports and working out in general.   Yet I realize that it has become a "dominant" part of my lifestyle to the point where my name and basketball are nearly tied together.   I believe I blogged about the reason why sports are important to me.  When I was in high school, sports was the thing that I was most "recognized".  Many of my peers were studious, got good grades and worked to attend big name colleges.

On the other hand, I wasn't a great student for most of my high school time until my senior year.  Yet, I was a four time athletic award winner in high school (Most Improved Player, 2 Time Coaches Award Winner, Athlete Of The Year).

Because of this, sports has always been a big part of my life.  It's what I have called "Social Exercise".  I get to get away from things, socialize and have fun a bit.  I've even continued to win awards after high school (Four Most Inspirational Player Awards (1999, 2003, 2011, 2012).

The injury has forced me to change up my habits.  Even with injuries in the past, I have gone to the basketball gym to watch my teams play.  But due to logistical and other issues this past week, I chose not to go to the gym.  I've also had to miss my Saturday basketball with friends.  But it's not like I hole up at home.  I've taken to other activities that are not necessarily active.  I'm pursuing my interest in photography and just enjoying other parts of life.

Don't get me wrong.  I won't suddenly drop playing basketball.  But I'm learning that switching things up occasionally is not really a bad thing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Seeing People Struggle Or Suffer Sucks

At some point this weekend, I was going to blog about how "Basketball Doesn't Define Me".  I may still get to this topic eventually but I am going to talk about something else tonight.

Last week, I blogged about a friend of mine being in the hospital.  Today, three friends and I decided to make another visit to the hospital.   One friend was there an hour and a half ahead of me.  After I arrived, the other two people arrived about 15 minutes afterward.

The good news is our hospitalized friend seemed improved.  As like last time, she was very mentally sharp.  However, she still had a breathing apparatus so speaking was a bit forced.  Overall, she seemed to be in decent spirits.  I'm sure having three people visit was a positive as well.

At some point during the visit, we had a few hospital staff flow through including the attending physician.  The physician was a nice gentleman and greeted us and our friend.  The physician stated that he was happy that our friend had made a lot of improvements in the past few weeks.

However, the physician noted that there were still some things our friend needed to do to get better.  Maybe the thought of the work that lay ahead was daunting and frustrating and our friend started to cry.      I don't know how my other friends were reacting but it was tough to see this.  Even though I was the only guy, I was tempted to cry.

Our friend eventually did settle down and we all chatted for a while longer.  Eventually, we all had to leave and our friend was crying once again.  We all reassured our friend that we would be back.

In the past six months or so, I've learned that I hate seeing people suffer.  From friends to family, I've done my best to help people's struggles.   Though I am reluctant to talk about it publicly, the fact is my mom has had struggles with memory in the past year.  I've taken on a lot of responsibility to try to help her out.

There is another friend of mine that I hang out with every now and then and talk with frequently.  The friend accidentally hurt themselves a few months ago which derailed some of our plans.  I know they were frustrated so I visited the friend once and spent a lot of time talking on the phone.   My friend did the same for me a few years ago so this was not a problem for us.

Unfortunately, there's a not a lot I can do for my hospitalized friend right now except to visit.  My friends and I have bounced some ideas around to get some gifts but not sure if they are practical at this point.

The main point is that seeing people struggle or suffer is not fun.  However, if there is a lesson here, it is that I need to appreciate what I have AND also help others who may not be as fortunate.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Been Thinking About.......

About 2 weeks ago, I played in a softball tournament.  Technically, i played in ONE game of the tournament.  I had a wedding to attend that conflicted so my plan was to play the one game.  As it turned out, I suffered a hand injury anyway so one game was going to be what I played regardless.

The injury hurt but I thought it was a sprain so I iced and rested for the past two weeks or so.  Alas, there was still some pain so I decided to get a check up.  Unfortunately, the x-rays showed a fracture in my hand.  Its not serious but I will be in a removable splint and be away from major physical activities like basketball for a while.

Though the injury is annoying and frustrating (I am typing this with one hand) , I am surprised at how calm I've taken this injury otherwise.  A part of the reason is due to my teams winning two league championships in the spring.  The excitement of the spring was great and not something that can be easily replicated.  Since the spring, I've focused on trying to ENJOY playing basketball and not just focus on winning.

Now that I am out for a while, I plan to enjoy the view from the bench.  In a way, its good to take a break.   I've been playing a lot for the past few years.

Additionally, my injury is nothing compared to something a friend is going through.  The friend is not super close but someone I've known for a while.  This friend had a tough life overall but recently has been dealt with many health issues.  I visited the hospital a few days ago and it was tough to see the friend hooked up to a few machines and unable to speak.

While my injury sucks, I am reminded that there are always people that have it worse.  I'm not entirely sure what I can do for my friend but the least I can do is be there for support.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Back In The Saddle Again (Not By Choice)

For the first time in a long while, I was forced to miss a league basketball game due to injury.  I suffered a hand injury during a softball tournament this past Saturday.   My right hand was quite swollen Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Despite my hope that the hand would get better by game time tonight, it wasn't meant to be.  Ultimately, I made the game time decision to sit out to rest my hand.   My hope is the injury is just a bruise / sprain and nothing more serious than that.  

Despite the fact that I wasn't planning to play, I dressed anyway.  My team was missing one other player and only played with six players.  I figured I would only enter as an emergency sub if needed.  Fortunately, I wasn't needed though I resisted temptation to enter the game a few times.  My team hit some bad stretches where we were struggling.

With my ability to play limited, I was in full coaching mode as I pulled out my coaches clipboard and was marking it up all night.  It's a little ironic.  I don't remember the last time I sat out a game due to injury as it's been a while.  It's also been a while where I had STRICTLY been a coach and not a "player / coach".  My last OFFICIAL team I coached was a youth (8th grade girls) team around 2005.  Since then I had been strictly been a player / coach for my adult leagues that I played in. 

Thinking back to tonight's game, it reminded me how tough it is to be a coach.  You have to know your players strengths and weaknesses.  Then you have to figure out how to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.  

Tonight was a little harder as some players were forced to play out of position with me and the other player missing.  The other player is a vet who can handle the ball and let some of our players focus on scoring.  I did not grow up playing basketball with training as a point guard but have assumed those duties in recent years.   I'm not a great ball handler or distributor.  However, I have a good feel to tempo of games and when things get out of whack, I slow things down to let the team get back into balance. 

Alas, as a coach, you have to trust and rely on your players to do the right things.  If they are not, then you have to teach them.  But unlike coaching youth basketball where you have practice, games are the practices.  So it's a little tough when players are doing things that are not exactly what you want them to do. 

Thus patience is the last thing.  I've definitely changed a bit since 2005.  I was still a bit of a screamer to my 8th grade girls basketball team in 2005.  Tonight, I wasn't screaming much. I was mainly directing players a lot as I saw the action unfold.  

While coaching (paid or otherwise) is a tough gig, it's actually pretty rewarding.  While I wasn't asking to coach tonight, it was good to back in the coach's seat again.  Hopefully, it will be the last time in my adult leagues as I get back on the court as a player soon.   I wouldn't mind coaching again at some point though.  


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Collages and Video Editing Memories

I've always been a fan of photographs.  With the advent of digital photography, I took a lot of shots and made physical copies of my favorite photographs.  However, a few years ago,  I took interest in two things that also involved media. 

First, I learned to love making photo collages.  I had purchased an iPad 2 for my mom but used the device occasionally.  During my time on the device, I discovered a few apps I liked including one called "Pic Collage".  It was a free app that allowed you to create free form collages.   After using the app for a while, I feel in love.   I loved using the app to combine multiple photographs focusing on one subject matter.  In a sense, it was a digital version of scrap booking.  

Second, I learned how to edit and create digital videos.   The credit for the initial motivation goes to a person I know.  The person was doing some video projects for a basketball league I play in.  It was due to this person that I started investigating how to edit and create digital videos.  As I had a iMac, I realized I had a built in program called iMovie.  It was a simple matter of importing video into the program, editing the video, saving the result to my computer and then uploading online.  

When I first started doing these two things, it was mostly for myself.  I created collages of subjects I liked.  I created highlight videos of my basketball games (though others were involved too).   It was quite fun to do. 

In the past week or so, I was creating a collage for a vacation trip that dated back to 2005.  There were some nice photos and I wanted to share with my friends.   While I was creating the collage, I stumbled upon some VIDEO from another trip in 2005.  After the collage was done, I quickly created the video as well.  

I was surprised at the positive reaction to the collage and video.   Many people thanked me for bringing back some great memories from 2005.   Though I did not realize it at the time, 2005 was both a time of transition for personally and a special time for that particular group of friends.   The group had mostly met a year earlier and hung out a LOT for a few years after. 

Today, the group has mostly dispersed.  Pockets of people still talk and meet up every now and then.  It is not likely the entire group will be getting together like we did in 2005.  However, the memories we shared will always remain and thankfully, I was able to capture them in collage and video form for my friends to enjoy.  That definitely made it worth my time to put them together.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Humbling Yet Learning Season

The summer is wrapping up and so is my second summer basketball league on Wednesday nights.  Tonight was the first round of the playoffs and my team (1-6) was a major underdog against the #2 seed (5-2).   We battled but ultimately lost 67-45.  I scored 15 points to lead the way but this season was very interesting.

I came off the spring season with two championship titles.  The spring season was very draining and I was planning to be a coach / role player for my summer league teams.  For my Friday league, the team had enough firepower where I played a little bit and focused on coaching.

My Wednesday team was a different story.  I had a lot of veterans and I thought we could contend in the playoffs and maybe the championship.  Alas, it never happened.  Our team was a lot older and a few steps slower than other teams.  We also had some inexperienced players and getting everyone to click proved to be a challenge.

If there was a mistake that was made, it was that I misread the capabilities of my team.  I thought we needed to fast break more but in fact we needed to be opposite.  Some of the newer guys just weren't used to playing at a fast pace and a slower pace was much better.

The other challenge was I was forced to be a true leader of the team. In most teams I've played more, I'm usually the spot up shooter.  I don't need to worry about handling the ball or directing players on the court (unless I am the captain).

But with only two guys (including me) that could reliably handle the ball, I had to play point guard a lot and direct the team and the players.  That meant I had to give up some of my scoring opportunities.  Yet, at times, I would switch gears and play my usual shooting guard / small forward positions.

What I learned this season is that winning isn't everything.  After winning two titles, it was humbling to go 1-6.  However, my guys stayed positive and I think our team enjoyed playing despite our lack of wins.

The other lesson is I need to take charge when the situation warrants instead of being passive.  It's funny that this happened this year.  I noticed that I can be passive at times yet my personality has been slowly changing.   I see it at work, officiating and now basketball.  If things are not going the way I expect, I am taking charge a lot more.

So this season was a bit of a wash in terms of wins and losses.  But it had some good lessons that will much more beneficial to me in the long run.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In The Running Mood

A few months ago, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to participate in something called "The Giant Race".  Given the name, I figured it was a running event and I was correct.  The event was sponsored by the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  My friend's reasoning for asking me?  He said I played too much basketball and it was time to do something "different".  I couldn't argue with my friend so I signed up.

Alas,  I had forgotten about the event until my friend reminded me a few days before.  Thus, about 10 days ago (on August 4th, 2013), I got up early, met my friend and participated in the event.  My friend and I had decided to join the 5K race (3.1 / 3.2 miles).  

I didn't know what to expect as my friend and I trekked to AT&T Park in downtown SF.  As I got there, I wasn't too nervous.  In fact, it was pretty exciting to be part of a race that had 7000 people registered!

As for the event itself, the 5K event was a mix of walkers and runners.  I chose to run most of the race and weaved through the various walkers.  It wasn't easy but it also wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I completed the event in about 30 minutes and 17 seconds which surprised me (about 9:46 per mile).

Participating in this event brought back to the last time I ran competitively.  That was in high school when I ran cross-country.  My high did not have a sports program until my sophomore year.  I spent my freshman year volunteering as a basketball coach at my old grammar school.  When the school announced that a sports program was being started, I had to make a choice of a sport to participate in.

In the fall, there were a choice of soccer, tennis and cross-country (football is fall sport too but my high school was too small to form up a team).  I didn't really like soccer.  I didn't think I was good enough to play tennis so I basically defaulted to cross-country.  I can't even say if I knew what the heck cross-country was.

In any case, I spent my last three years of high school participating in cross-county.   I was strictly a high school runner and not a competitive runner.  I only conditioned during the season and wasn't dedicated enough to try and condition during the offseason.

While I didn't win any medals during my high school running career, it was a good time.   I bonded with teammates since we had to run a lot for practice.  We got outside a lot and had to commute on the bus home.   That gave my teammates and I plenty of time to chat.

In participating in "The Giant Race", I actually found that I enjoyed running again.  I hadn't run much since high school.  But getting out there last week was fun and I think I will keep running every now and then in the future.

I'll wrap with a point of comparison.  During my FINAL high school cross-country race (All City Championship) in 1991, I ran 3.1 miles in about 22 minutes and 51 seconds (the winners were in the 18 to 19 minute range).   While I didn't complete last week's event like I did when I was 17, I'm still proud of what I did.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Day Above Ground - "Asian Girlz" / The Issue Of Asian American Representation

I was at home last night on surfing around Facebook when I saw a link to a video called "Asian Girlz" by some bad Day Above Ground. The poster of the link indicated it was one of the most racist things he had ever seen.

After watching,  I had to agree that the video was definitely tasteless and borderline racist.   I don't want to bore people with details of the video.  If you choose to watch it, you will know what I mean.

To me, the issue is how and why this video got made.  Firstly, I'll comment on the band Day Above Ground.  Seems like a bunch of white dudes with one Asian (Indonesian) member.  According to some of their comments, the video was meant to be a satire and not be racist in nature.  If we are to give the band a little credit that they weren't "intentionally" racist, that tells us something about how Asian-American women are viewed by some.  After all, the video is quite SEXIST in nature.  

Indeed, that is the battle Asian-American women have battled for years.  There is a perception that Asian-American women are dragon ladies / geishas who just like to please men.  In fact, an old documentary from the 1980's addresses this:

Slaying The Dragon

So that leads to the second issue.  Why did the Asian woman video participate in something so offensive?  The lady in question is Levy Tran who is apparently a well known import model.  I did not know this though!

For some who is Asian-American, I am surprised she participated in the video.  She issued some comments on the band and indicated "they were sweet and not at all racist".  Unfortunately, the video says otherwise.

Levy is an attractive lady and it's a shame she participated.  Her Instagram and Facebook fan pages have been deleted and she sent some apologies via Twitter.  Unfortunately, the damage has been done. Asian-Americans have very diverse opinions and experiences and not every agrees on things that might be consider racist.

The recent incident with the Asiana pilot names on KTVU illustrates this.  Some Asian-Americans thought the names were funny.  Some were offended and some took a neutral stance.

However, I've seen a good number of Asian-American women (and even NOT Asian-American women) comment on the video and it's been largely negative due to the sexist nature of the video.  Thanks to the power of the Internet, Asian-Americans (men and women) are commenting via videos, blogs and other Social Media sites.

Why is this important to the Asian-American community?  Actually, it's important to all minorities when it comes to representation.  While some people will disagree, it's pretty well known that the media (news, TV, movies, music) have a great influence on people's thoughts and opinions.

If there are people who had NEVER seen or met an Asian-American woman and they saw the video, this might form some unflattering perceptions of Asian-American women.   Forget the commentary if the band was racist or not.  The video itself is quite bad in that it PRESENTS someone / something in a negative light.

Why do Asian Americans and other minorities fight for more positive representation in many industries?  This is the reason why.   Asian-Americans are simply NOT represented in great numbers in movies, music and TV.  When they are, they have (in the past) been gangsters or bad guys in general.  If they are good guy, they are the martial artist (Jackie Chan) or wise sage (Mr. Miyagi).

Asian-American women have gotten some positive roles but they are off balanced by old perceptions as  I stated above.

To conclude, if this video had not come out, I would not have heard about the band.  They seem pretty small time.  If this is all the band is going to be known for, their career is not going to go very far.  However, the band did ignite some passion within the Asian-American community.  Maybe Asian-Americans will use this a starting point to ignite some activism and fight for more positive representation.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Calling My Own Number

Tonight, my Wednesday night summer basketball league team got blown out by about 20 points.    That dropped my team's record to 1-3. One of our main guys was missing.  Another guy was coming off an injury.  One of my players is leaving after next week.   So my team was in a bit of a flux tonight and I just rolled with the punches.

Yet, as the captain, I need to rally the troops a bit.  After the game, I asked one of my players what he was seeing.  He said that our offense is just not clicking.  Our team as a whole has been passive.  The player told me that I NEEDED TO START SHOOTING MORE.

His thought was that someone needs to step up and be more aggressive.  I had to reluctantly agree.  Before the season, I envisioned several of my guys carrying the bulk of the offense.  I planned to be the usual role players that I like to do.  Shoot a little bit.  Rebound a little bit.  Play a little point guard.  That's what I excel at.

Yet, my team's only win of the season was when I scored 16 points and carried the team a bit.  I admit that I've been passive offensively the past few weeks.  Tonight, I was not feeling it.  I was a little tired from sleeping a little late last night.  I felt a little heavy from eating a fairly large lunch.  Though I could get up and down the court, I had trouble getting lift on my jumpers.

If my team is still going to be struggling offensively, I may take things into my own hands next week.  I have to mentally prepare to step things up  a bit in advance of the playoffs in three weeks.   It's not my usual MO but I've done it before and will try to do it again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Adaptability Is One Key To Coaching (or Leadership)

When I first volunteered to coach youth basketball many years ago, I had no idea what I was doing.  I had minimal experience playing basketball let alone COACHING basketball.    I was just a screamer who didn't know what I was talking about.  I've never been one to remain static so I dug into various books about basketball including ones on coaching philosophy, skill development and tactical details. 

Fast forward to 2013 and things have changed quite a bit.  I coached youth basketball for about 15+ years and learned a lot about skill development, coaching philosophies and communication.  What has advanced my coaching is the fact that I have PLAYED in adult leagues for the past 20+ years.  Coaching without playing experience of any kind is a difficult thing.   So now I can talk about strategy and tactics much better than I could in the past.  

Despite having all this experience, I believe one of the keys in coaching is adaptability.   One reason I believe this is within the current structure where I spend most of my time coaching these days.  When I coached my youth basketball teams in the past, I had time for practices.   I could talk to my teams about my expectations and gear practices toward what I needed done.  Practices also gave me insight into all of my players and what they could do. 

Currently, I do not coach any youth basketball. I spend time playing in adult draft basketball leagues AND volunteering to be a captain (aka coach) of the team as well.   Unlike my youth teams, I don't have any practices.  Plus, these are draft leagues so you get new sets of players just about every season.   Many times, I learn about the team on the fly.  If you happen to have great players that mesh well, you're all set.   As we all know, it's not always going to happen. 

The challenge becomes to figure out your players, their styles, skills and put all of them into one consistent team while they are playing.  That requires a ton of adaptability.    Whatever strategies you used the season before may not work as you have different players. 

Beyond the strategy, adaptability in communication is key.  I learned early on that every kid responded differently to me.  I had to adjust to maximize the abilities of my kids.  With adults, I feel most listen to you if you stay generic.   However, there will always be some that are stubborn or take more time to connect to.  This requires a lot of experimentation.  Sometimes you get through and sometimes you don't.  

I mention this because of our softball game today.  We lost and a lot of us made mistakes.  I know I made plenty today and can self adjust.  Some players are newer and may have felt bad due to some of the mistakes.  Even though I'm not the captain of the softball team, I chatted with one of the players and quietly pointed out what happened and what the expected outcome was supposed to be. 

After all, knowing a mistake was made is good.  Knowing WHY is better.   Just taking some of the lessons I learned in years past to all the teams I participate in.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Basketball Is Important But Family Is Most Important Of All

I've been involved playing and coaching basketball for over 20+ years.  I've been on championship teams and winless teams.  I've watched some of my teams win by 30 and also lose by 30.  So you can say that I've seen just a lot of basketball related things over the years.

This week, something happened which I had never seen before though.  A teammate of mine that is playing with me on a summer league basketball team told me they had to leave the team to return home for some family things they needed to address.   To put it into context, the teammate is not just departing the team but also quitting their job to move back home.  The reason for departing is very personal and I won't repeat the reason here.

Knowing the reason why the teammate had to move, I understood why the decision was made.  Out of many people, I was probably one who understood just how tough this decision was.  This teammate is a lot like me.  They love basketball and it's their way of having fun and getting away from the stresses of life. Having to give basketball up (at least here is this area) is a tough choice but one that had to be done.

However, this move illustrates just how important FAMILY is in the overall scheme of things.  All of us have our hobbies and it's great that we can enjoy them.  But family trumps everything and sacrifices have to made.  I've been learning this lesson in recent months.  Due to some personal family things I've had to deal with, there's been some sacrifices that I've done on my part.

Our team had a miserable game tonight as we lost by 30.  While I wasn't too thrilled with the team's performance, I talked to my teammate for a while after the game.    The game was forgotten as I let them talk a bit about their situation plus I offered my thoughts and support for them.

To be honest, I am being very generic here in calling this person a "teammate" but I now consider them a friend.  We haven't know each other that long but we've had a lot of experiences together, especially our Spring Basketball league championship that we won back in May.

This teammate / friend isn't leaving just yet so this isn't a farewell.   But as I blogged back in May, the championship gave us some lifetime connections.   So even if this friend has to depart from us for now, I am certain I will see them again in the future.

Friday, July 12, 2013

KTVU / NTSB Asiana Name Gaffe

By now, If you live in the SF Bay Area, you have already heard the story about a HUGE gaffe that occurred at KTVU Channel 2 (Oakland, CA).  If you haven't have a look at the story below (plus video):

KTVU apologizes for racist SF plane crash gaffe

That's been some varying reactions to this.  As expected, a lot of Asian Americans have taken offense to this gaffe.  Asian Americans have a lot of jokes made at their expense.  Sometimes, these jokes are funny.  Sometimes they are not.  In this case, since this particular gaffe was involving the recent Asiana accident at SFO, it is even more appalling that this occurred.

While I don't particularly feel outraged over the gaffe, I do not find it particularly funny.  The gaffe was involving the name of the pilots of the Asiana plane.  The pilots are likely not feeling too hot these days.  The accident that occurred has taken three lives though we are really lucky that there weren't a lot more.

It is interesting to watch other people's reactions.  At my office, where there are a mix of Asians and non-Asians, most of the non-Asians thought it was funny but were surprised this gaffe slipped through. Was it racist?  Whoever's idea it was, I don't think it was racist.  But it has racial overtones and that's never a good thing in my mind.

Asian-Americans aren't necessarily a loud voice but this was one gaffe no one's going to forget anytime soon.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Winding Down The Days Of Competitive Basketball

After a slow start to the season, my Friday Night summer basketball league team played hard and cruised to a 57-47 (or something like that) win tonight.  It was our second win in a row and we are 2-2 overall with 3 games left to go.

As the season winds down though, one can't help to think that an era will soon end.   We had 12 guys officially on the roster and 9 guys over the age of 30.  I have a history of playing with all of the guys.  However, it is the older guys with whom I played with the most.  We've gone through some ups, downs and all arounds through the years.

Two of the guys played in our first game, got injured and are out for the season.  One guy missed the first game, played the next two games but was recovering from injury.  He recently declared himself out of the season as well. Another guy is coming off of shoulder surgery.  While he is otherwise relatively healthy, the constant banging takes a toll on his body.

Interestingly enough, we have a guy that is ALMOST 49 and can still play well.  He's slowed down a bit recently but even a few years ago, he was moving around pretty darn well.  The reason why he is playing is he stopped for a long time.  He got back into the game two or three years ago and he is trying to make up for lost time.

For the rest of us 30 somethings, it's not really any injuries that are holding us back.  It's the fact that we feel we're a step slow.  We don't quite move as fast or jump as high as we used to.  It's a lot tougher to recover after playing basketball.

For me, I actually feel quite good.  I had my share of injuries in the early 2000's.  It took a little while to heal physically but even longer to get over the injuries mentally.  However, I did get over it and I feel I've played at a pretty good level since 2007.

I'm in pretty good shape and can get up and down the court.  But banging around the basket with the 20 somethings in our league is tough.  Also, I realize I just do not move all that well laterally anymore.  I used to love the opportunity to guard young guys.  Well, the young guys have been having a field day lately when I guard them.  I was never the greatest of defenders when I was young and definitely not a great one-on-one defender now when I am older.

There is some talk that once this summer season ends, a few of the guys made ride off into the sunset.  They are not going to stop playing basketball.   However, the days of running and competing in league ball may be over for some guys.

Personally, I'll still be playing as I enjoy playing and the social aspects of the game.  Yes, it is getting harder to play against young guys, but fortunately, I have options to remain playing even as I get ready to hit my 40's next year.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Passing Of The Torch

After a month off, it was time to get back into the swing of league basketball.  One of the summer league's began this afternoon with a 1 PM game which we lost 47-41.  This particular team is talented on paper but a lot of the guys have not played with each other that much.  That showed in our chemistry today.  There were a lot of turnovers because everyone wasn't used to playing with each other.   The chemistry can be worked on as we lost a couple of guys to injury and that will shrink our rotations down a bit.

But the one thing we can't work on is our ages.  Out of the 11 players who played today, eight of them were over 30 including guys who were 47, 39, 38 (two), 35, 34 (two), and 31.   The other three guys were 27, 26, and 24 respectively.   The old guys looked a little slow against our competition, many of whom were in the early to mid 20's.  They were stronger,  more physical, quicker and simply more athletic that us.   Our 24 year old was our most effective player simply because he could still get up and down the court. Most of the old guys struggled against the other team's quickness.   

Yet, as I look at some of our old guys, I remembered the days when we could do the same to other teams.   Our team will be fine as we all know how to play.  It'll just take some time to get the chemistry together. 

However, I see there are a few other athletic teams similar to our opponents today.  We will have to play real well to be competitive.  We can no longer out run and out jump our opponents.  That's what the next generation of kids are going to do to us instead!  :)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Simple Things

A good friend of mine and I usually talk at least once a week.   I'm not particularly sure why we got into the routine but it's beneficial for the both of us.  My friend lives alone and is pretty far away from me so I feel it's good to give them some company.   On the other hand, I like to chat and get things off my shoulder.  My friend is pretty relaxed and gives me a nice outlet to vent if I need it. 

My friend and I had talked briefly on Tuesday.  It's been a stressful time for the both of us so talking a bit was good.  I was a little surprised when my friend pinged me on Thursday to talk again.  We'll talk more than once a week if either one of us needs it.  Thus, when I called my friend back, I was expecting to discuss something serious. 

As it turned out, my friend wanted to ask my opinion about a camera they were looking to buy.  The camera was expensive and we had a long discussion.  In fact, we even looked at some of my photos I took to show what could be done with a good camera.  We had a good time talking and got a lot of laughs.  Before you knew it, three hours had flown by!  

I commented to my friend that the talk was good.  It was good to have some fun and laughs.  I told my friend that lately our discussions have been short plus a little more oriented on stress and other things going on.  Changing up the script was beneficial. 

In today's world where the texting, emailing and other forms of electronic communication are used heavily, never underestimate simply just talking to someone.  I sometimes don't have a choice with certain friends but when possible I think a chat is much better than electronic alternatives. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When Basketball Feels Like Work

Playing basketball is s fun activity for me.  Otherwise, I wouldn't do it as much as I do.  I played in two leagues (Mondays / Wednesdays or Thursdays) for three months from February until May.  I play almost every Saturday with friends.  For the past few months, I've been playing every other Sunday as well.

However, it was the league play this spring that was the most rewarding.  As I noted in previous posts, my teams won both league championships.  It was a great bonding experience for all the players involved on both my teams.

What people don't realize is that while PLAYING was fun, there was a lot of other logistical things that were involved.  For example, for my Monday night team, I was not only a player but a captain.   I had responsibilities to organize my team, make sure everyone got their playing time and also be the main coach / strategist.  If you've never coached a team, it is a fun experience but is very mentally draining.

On my Wednesday/Thursday night league, I was not a captain.  But the league was fairly competitive and I had to focus and play hard all the night.  The guys were stronger and faster than my Monday night league.  The intensity level was definitely high.

Additionally, there were other factors.  The leagues were held about 30 miles away from home so I had to commute for the better part of three months to just play in the league.  I also served as an official a lot in both leagues.  I also volunteered as the league's Facebook coordinator so I was regularly posting updates and photos among other things.

Add it all up and I was glad for the season to end a couple of weeks ago.

As i look at my calendar now, the summer is here and there are two summer leagues on the horizon.  One is starting on weekend June 7th and the other one starts a week or two after.  I'm definitely the captain / coach of the team that is playing on the weekend of June 7th.  I'm undecided if I will captain / coach in the other league.

People who know me will be shocked to hear this, but I wish I had a long basketball break.   The spring league lasted for three months.  I played 20 total games and was involved in so many other things that a mental break would be nice.

Alas, there is no rest of the weary.  I'll get as much rest as I can between now and June 7th and get ready to roll into the summer leagues.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Your Actions Speak Louder Than Words.....And Sometimes They Say The Wrong Things!

As with most Saturdays, I met up with some guy friends for some pick up basketball.  We had 8 guys and so we engaged in some 4-on-4 half court action.  My team was struggling lost the first three games.  At some point during the fourth game, I noticed one of the other guys was being a little aggressive with me.   After some more action, it became obvious something had set the guy off.

After playing the fourth game and the fifth game and calling it quits as it was getting late,  I talked to the other guy.  The other guy expressed his opinion that I was being too aggressive and physical and he got pissed.   There was some question about a play where I came down with my elbows on him.  Some people questioned whether it was intentional or not.  I personally did not think so but I can't argue the action that was done.

This post isn't to defend myself.  It was an interesting experience to go through and learn from.  Here's why:

No matter what we do (whether it's basketball or other things), there are times where people interpret actions differently than you envisioned.   The biggest lesson here is not to get defensive and LISTEN.  As hard as it is to do, there is a teaching moment for everyone.  We all do things out of habit and reflexively.  Maybe out of habit, I did a few of the things I was told.  I don't know if it's usually a problem but obviously it was today.  We talked about things like men, I apologized and we'll all move on.

On the other hand, I've also been on the receiving end of a few things.  For example, during my spring basketball league, I was being guarded by a young 20-something kid.  I had scored 20 points the game before against other team.  The young kid was assigned to pester me and throw me off my game.

Well, it must have succeeded as I had a crappy game.  But at one point, I got frustrated because the young kid was hand checking and hip checking me throughout.  At one point, I told him to stop or I would start hitting back a little bit.  Now, I knew the young kid and he doesn't do these things intentionally.  We were cool after the game as well.  In the heat of the moment, you obviously say or do things that come off the wrong way.

Basketball is just a game and we shouldn't take it too seriously.    Of course, there is always pride involved and sometimes competition brings out the worst in us.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Equal Opportunity Championships

Recently, both of my spring adult league basketball teams won their respective league championships.  I wasn't really expecting this to happen so it was a pleasant surprise.  In total, I have played on EIGHT teams that have championships over the years.

In winning the championships, I updated a picture collage to reflect the two championship teams I was part of this season.  A friend of mine commented that "I was the Robert Horry of recreation basketball".

I know the friend was joking around but this got me to thinking about something.  Unlike the NBA (or other professional basketball leagues), recreational basketball leagues get plenty of chances to win league and/or tournament championships throughout the year.  NBA players get ONE chance to win each season.  If they don't win, they have to wait until next season.

For me, winning two championships in the span of a week is a first and a pretty rare thing for me.  All of my previous championships were very spread out.  But there are players that play in many leagues that could win multiple championships like I did.

My main point is that my eight championships isn't really all that unusual in recreation basketball.  There are just so many leagues / tournaments that you could win more "championships" in one year than some NBA players get in their careers.

All of this being said, sometimes the pursuit of a recreation basketball league or tournament championship can cause players to act irrationally.  They get frustrated at teammates, referees or their own play.   I hope to encourage players to remember a few things:

If you don't win this season, another season is around the corner pretty quickly.  You'll get another opportunity again very quickly.

Even if you win, you are not winning a "ring" like professional players.  If you're lucky, you'll get a t-shirt.  If you're REALLY LUCKY, the organizers might give you a team award or even individual awards.  For me, out of my eight championship teams, I have one t-shirt that reflects me winning anything.  The rest are just photos that I took.

Lastly, never compare your experience to others.  I've got a lot of differing memories of my various championships.  Some of them are hugely positive and some of them are not so positive.    However, if you're only won one championship and the experience was a super great one, then more power to you. No point in comparing yourself to someone else who has more.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Connections That Last For A Lifetime

Last night, my Monday night basketball league completed it's 2013 spring season with the championship game.  My team was fortunate enough to be playing in the game.  Even more fortunate, my team was able to WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP 66-61.

In looking back, my team had an improbable run.  My team had plenty of potential and chemistry but we only won one out of first five games.   I was forced to make some adjustments and fortunately things worked out.  My team gelled and won it's final give games of the season including the championship.

I'm extremely proud of my team.  We had seven players, five of whom had played in our league before.  We had two new players including one guy who had never played league basketball before.  The other new player was a girl.   She was real small of stature but she is baller and tough as nails.   We had to work hard at our chemistry but everyone played their roles and contributed to the championship win.

While my team's win didn't bring us any trophies or anything like that, I find that it brings lasting memories and connections for all of the players involved.  While I am not close friends with all of my teammates, going through our journey this season will forever bind us.   I don't know how much I will see this particular group of players in the future.  However, anytime I do see them, this championship will be something we can reminisce about for years to come.

Really, this holds true for all of the teams in our league.  All five of the teams finished with a 4-4 record.  Instead of randomly eliminating one of the teams from playoffs, all teams were invited.  It was a first in the league to have this happen.  This made for a exciting playoff and championship games.  So while my team earns the "champion" title, every team in the league had something to be proud of.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Ties That Bind / 25th Anniversary Of The Class of 1988

Tonight, my old middle school had it's 30th Annual Benefactors Banquet.  Additionally, as it was my class's 25th Graduation Anniversary (Class of 1988), we were asked to attend.  Despite some efforts by me and some of my classmates, only two of us attended the banquet.  

Because of this, I wanted to briefly comment on the 25th Anniversary of my graduation from middle school.  After attending a K to 5 public elementary school, I went to a Catholic school from 6th to 8th grade.   

A lot of my friends from the elementary school went on to public middle schools.   Some of them questioned why I went to a Catholic school (it wasn't my choice, it was my parents).   My public school friends looked at the Catholic school students as "rich snobs".  

I had a difficult time adjusting as I was socially awkward as a youth.  I didn't fit in with some of the more popular kids and was bullied a bit.   I'll admit that I remember these experiences quite a bit.  Though if I do take a step back, I'll admit that I did have some friends and things were probably better than I remembered. I did get tired of being bullied and started pushing back though!  :)  

One positive experience was being part of the school's basketball and baseball teams.  The school had not formed teams during my three years there.  It seemed like they hadn't had teams in quite a while.  But a new teacher from another school noticed and started forming teams at the school. 

While our class team's (boys basketball, girls basketball and boys baseball) did not do anything spectacular in one year of participating in athletics, the school has retained it's sports program in the 25 years since. 

So while our teams will not be remembered for it's accomplishments, we can all feel proud to having been the ones that RESTARTED the sports program. 

Lastly, I'll have to talk about my relationships with my classmates.  While I did have some negative experiences, those are long in the past.  I have met up with a few of my former classmates over the years for many reasons.  I'll admit that it is good to see people and catch up.  From my perspective, I don't share a ton of experiences with my classmates due to being at the school for only three years and not being a "popular kid".  

But all of that doesn't matter now.  I take away my own positives and I know my classmates will do the same.  No matter where we are and what we are doing, the Class of 1988 will always be tied together in that particular moment in time.  

Happy 25th Anniversary to all of my classmates.  


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Boston Marathon Bombings: Making The Best Of A Bad Situation

It was a quiet day at work as a good number of people are on a company sponsored trip for the week.  I took an opportunity to grab some lunch with some co-workers.  When we returned to the office, the TV had news of some explosion.  I initially did not pay attention until I went to grab some water and saw that the explosion had occurred in Boston!  

It was then I got the full scope of the situation.  I was a little stunned at the events and wondered why or how this happened.  My thoughts immediately went to a couple of people I know in Boston.  One is an old high school friend that I haven't talked to in many years.  The other was a guy friend of my high school friend that I met years ago.

While I am not going to comment on the actual situation, I will say that technology and social media helped me get a good grasp of situation and check in on a few people.

I emailed the two people I knew in Boston and the guy friend responded a few hours later.  He indicated he was fine which was good.  Through social media, I found out an old co-worker just happened to be traveling to Boston for work.  Her plane could not land for a while but she was otherwise ok.

I also texted and later talked one of my close friends.  The friend lives alone so just wanted to see how they were.  We didn't chat too much about Boston but it was good to chat regardless.  Never underestimate having some good friends around you.

I send my thoughts and prayers to everyone involved with this situation.  It doesn't just involved people in Boston but also runners from many different locations.  While this is a difficult time, please understand that there are people, friends, and family from all over the world ready to support you.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jeremy Lin And Taylor King

In 2006, an underdog Palo Alto high school boys varsity basketball upset a highly regarded Mater Dei high school team in the California State Division II basketball championships 51-47:

Jeremy Lin's NBA 3-pointer broke Mater Dei's back
By now, most of you know the story.  Palo Alto was led by Jeremy Lin and this game has been mentioned many times over as part of Jeremy Lin's journey to the NBA.  While most stories reference Mater Dei as a powerhouse, they don't mention how much of a powerhouse.

Palo Alto had only one player on a Division I college basketball roster (Jeremy Lin) while Mater Dei had EIGHT players that made Division I teams including one Taylor King.

King was a big 6'7" kid that was well known throughout Southern California and apparently had committed to Duke as an 8th grader.  When Palo Alto faced Mater Dei, much of the focus was on how Palo Alto would stop King.  Jeremy Lin was mentioned but not prominently.  

For all of the Lin fans out there, we all know Lin's journey.  For me, I always wondered happened to Taylor King.  Here is a recent article updating everyone what happened to him:

Back from the depths, ex-phenom Taylor King finding himself, looking for his game

The main point in talking about Taylor King?  Jeremy Lin recently went onto 60 Minutes to talk about his experience getting to the NBA.  He talked about how there may have been some discrimination because he was Asian American.  Indeed there may have been, but this path had made Jeremy Lin appreciate where he has gotten. 

In the case of King, it's an example of how much pressure highly touted players go through.  Jeremy Lin may not have gotten a lot of recruiting attention but that may have been for the best.  College basketball recruiting and NBA scouting is purely a business affair.  Jeremy Lin didn't have to fight off tons of colleges fighting for him, agents trying to get him to sign, etc.  

It is entirely funny how King and Lin's paths have diverged.  I'm thrilled Lin got to the NBA and is doing well.  I don't know King but sounds like he's had some struggles.  I hope he does get his life straight and if can get to the NBA, it would make for an interesting reunion between Lin and him (not sure if they would even remember each other). 

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Maintaining Your Social Circles As You Grow Older

This probably could belong on my officiating blog but it doesn't really matter!  Tonight was the "End Of The Year" dinner for my high school officiating association.   For me personally, it was a rather quiet year of high school officiating.  After taking last season (2011-2012) off, I returned for the 2012-2013 season.  I was rather busy at work BUT still managed to work around 25 to 30 games.  I did some good games though had no playoffs.

The dinner is usually a time for many officials to catch up with other officials.    In a group of 160+ officials, you don't always see everyone during a season.   I got a chance to take to a lot of folks today which was good.

Among of the officials I talked to was an older guy (turning 60 this year though he doesn't look it).  We've always had good conversations and among the things we talked about was maintaining social circles as you grow older.  We discussed this due to some things we've seen within our friends and/or family.

Many people (like me) have a core group of friends that you talk to or hang out with.  However, as time progresses, you will have to adjust.  For example, many of my friends are now married with kids.  I don't spend as time playing video games or doing other things as much with these friends.  Fortunately, with my office moving downtown, quite a few friends are quite nearby.  So we end up just meeting up for lunch every now and then.

I'm also fortunate that I'm fairly active in other activities such as officiating (as noted above) and playing a lot of basketball.  My officiating and basketball provide me social interaction, exercise and the opportunity to see different gyms, courts and cities that I might not see otherwise.

The main point is that if we get into a habit of adapting and creating new social connections when we are younger, it will be much easier as we get older.  I see that older folks who aren't as social when they are younger have a more difficult time adjusting when they get older.

So while my core group of guy friends don't together as much as we'd like at the moment, I do my best to stay active with other people.  I'm lucky to have that opportunity.   I hope that everyone can do that as well.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Equal Rights / Those Who Don't Know History May Be Doomed To Repeat It

All this discussion on the rights for gays to marry got me to think about how we are still fighting for "equal rights" here in 2013.   Everyone is entitled to their opinion but sometimes I feel people have forgotten history.

In 2013, we take it for granted that we all have "equal rights".  However, did we forget that African-Americans had to right for their civil rights?  Or that Japanese Americans were interned in camps because of World World II?  How about the Chinese Exclusion Act that prevented Chinese from immigrating to the United States in the 1800's?   All of these things don't exist anymore because people realized they were wrong.

Yet, we are here discussing whether to "discriminate" against yet another group of people.   You don't have to agree with the gay (or LGBT) lifestyle.  But what someone else does is not really any of our business.

I'm not particularly political.  However, I do believe everyone deserves to be treated equally.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April Fool's Twins

For those that don't know, today is my birthday.  Yes, this is not an April Fool's joke.

Someone asked me on Facebook today if I was going to post something about my life experiences or things that I've learned over the years.  The answer is no (at least not yet).  I will post about something else that is still related to my birthday.  

Many years and a few jobs ago, I met this young lady that worked in our department.  She was an admin for our department's director and so she had frequent interactions with everyone that worked in our department. Most of our initial interactions were just "work related".  While the young lady was friendly, it was more of a business like manner than being super outgoing.  

Over the course of time, we got to know each other a little better and started talking about things other than work.  One time the discussions turned to birthdays.  I cannot remember how or why the discussion turned there.  I seem to recall the young lady mentioning she was born on "April 1st".  I went "Me Too".   To make a long story short, the two of us shared the same birthday (month, day, AND year).  

While sharing the same exact birthday (month, day and year) is not common, it's still possible.  Meeting someone that has the same exact birthday is a little unusual.  Because of this unusual thing shared between us, that led to another discussion:  "Where were you born?" 

This was where the surprise really kicked in.  Not only were the young lady and I born on the same month, day, and year.  We were born in the same CITY and the same HOSPITAL.  The only difference?  As we would find out later, I was born 1 1/2 hours ahead of her. 

It took some time but the "young lady" is now a close and trusted friend.   Despite our "shared birthday", we are quite different.  I'm the outgoing / energetic sort.  She's remained the quiet and more reserved one.  But we've learned to meet in the middle.  

I've shared this story verbally to a few people over the years.  I figured this year would be a good time to share to the "general public" as a feel good story.  I've muted a lot of details as my friend likes her privacy but I'm sure she doesn't mind me sharing the general details. 

I've always wondered WHY my friend and I crossed paths this way.   Really, it doesn't matter.  The friendship we share is all that matters.   However, one does have to admit that this story is definitely an unusual one.  

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Coaching Basketball 101

I got an interesting lesson in basketball this past week that I want to share.    When it comes to COACHING any team (whether NBA, college, high school, kids or even adult recreation league), the coach's goal is win.  To do so, you have to "Maximize your team's strengths" and "Minimize your team's weaknesses".  

Nowhere was this true this week in two of my adult basketball leagues that I play in.  I am the captain / coach of my Monday night basketball league team.  The strength of my Monday night team is balance. All seven players are all about the same level.   Everyone has some different things they excel in.  One of our players is a great shooter when left open.  On the other hand, my Monday team is not all that explosive.  We don't have a definite #1 scorer that we can do to during crunch time.  

Early on, I worked the offense through our best shooter early on.  It worked pretty well early on but as the season has worn on, other teams have adjusted and our best shooter has slumped.  I haven't done a good job getting the team readjusted.  Additionally, I have not yet found a way to overcome our lack of a crunch time scorer.  Thus the team has one win and four losses.  Fortunately, the team's got another three games to recover in the season. 

On the other hand, I also play in a Thursday night basketball league.  The team is super top heavy with three good scorers, a solid fourth guy and four other guys (including me) as role players.  The team has done well and entered this week undefeated at 4-0.  This team's strength is that all of the players are fairly athletic.  We have a good PG (our captain) and two guys who can score at will.  The role players fill in with defense, rebounding and occasional scoring.  If there is a weakness is that we are not the quickest on the perimeter.  Plus, we are not real good in the half court.  We are much better in transition.  

The regular captain was gone this past Thursday so I took over captain duties.  Additionally, another one of our scorers was not present so we were left with six guys.  We chose to go zone defense early and let the other team just dominate us early as we fell behind by about 12 points.   When the other team is scoring like that, it is hard to get your transition offense going.  

The zone defense had made my team a bit passive so a switch to man-to-man was in order.   The other team was a little short on guards (only two present at game, one was out of town) so I stuck our #1 scorer (and also best defender) on the other team's best shooter.  The other team was forced to try and dump the ball into the post which was effective.  But the other team's offense became one dimensional and my team slowly chipped away. 

We were fortunate to get away with the 67-63 win even though we were missing two of our top players.  But it was one of those things where we maximized the strength we had (good defender) and minimized our weaknesses (only six players, 1 top scorer).  

People who just play basketball think it's just a one-on-one game but the reality is you need to take advantage of your strengths and avoid the weaknesses.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Calm In The Midst Of Chaos

This afternoon, I left work around 4:30 PM to catch the subway home.  I had some plans in the evening and wanted to get home early to make a decision on my commute plans (train or car).  I figured that if I got home at a reasonable time, I would have time to choose between either option, depending on how I felt.

The plans didn't quite go that well.   As soon as I got to the subway station, I heard an announcement of a delay.  Some accident had occurred and one station (in my direction home) was closed though trains were running.

At this point, I had a choice.  I could go with the regular subway I took or take an alternative system that was also underground.   I'm quite familiar with the alternative system.  I just knew it would definitely take a while for me to get home.  The regular subway is about a 20 minute ride (30 total minute commute).  The alternative is about 30 to 45 minute ride and almost an hour total commute.

I chose to take the regular subway and it was pretty clear I made the wrong decision.  Tons of people were waiting for trains going in both directions.  Not only was one station was closed, it turned out that most of the trains going my direction were getting turned back early.  All in all,  no one was happy.

I remember being a little frustrated initially.  I was hoping to get home and then head to my destination early. Now it seemed like I would not get home early AND would likely be late to my ultimate destination on time (let alone early).

I hopped on a train going home but I got off after about four stops.  The subway was turning back a lot of trains early.  Tons of other folks going my way were also getting dropped off.   Some were frustrated.  Some were calm but had a difficult time trying to figure out which trains were going which direction.

For me, I remained cool as a cucumber and even struck up some conversation with some folks.  After all, there was absolutely nothing I could do.  I figured I might as well enjoy myself while I waited.  At the station I was at, taking alternative transportation was possible BUT just too time consuming.  I chose to be patient and just ride out the situation.

After about 20 minutes, a train was finally going my direction so I hopped on with just about everyone else who had been waiting.   I continued chatting with a few the folks.  There were a few people just like me.  They weren't too overly stressed and we all just had some fun joking around.

When the train finally arrived at my station, I departed.  An older lady that I had been talking to complimented me for "keeping a good attitude and giving her some laughs".

That comment reminded me that I do have a good ability to remain calm under stress.  I can't really explain how or why I have this ability.  When things are seemingly falling apart (especially when it comes to basketball playing or coaching), I just put aside all the emotions and focus on WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

While I do have this ability, I sometimes forget and start getting frustrated or worried.  However, today was a good reminder that there is no pointing worrying about "WHAT IF".  You need to be centered and deal with "WHAT IS".

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Not everyone seems the game the same way as you.........

If you play a lot of basketball but have never been a coach or a team captain in any capacity, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.  It will teach you a great many things about the game of basketball you never thought of.  

One of them is an incredible amount of patience.  As a long time coach and captain, I'm pretty relaxed with my teams.  Win or lose, I'm usually pretty chill.  But tonight my patience got a bit exhausted.   It was because my team has had trouble putting the pieces together.  As a coach, I have a vision of how the team can play but the vision hasn't been 100% realized.  Much of this is on me but to be fair, these adult teams don't practice.  We all just show up to play and I try to piece the puzzle together.  

But one lesson that is learned by coaching is that you understand that not everyone seems the game of basketball the game way as you do.   It's easy to get frustrated but you have a ton of players who have varying experience levels.   You just have to address each person individually.  

In any case, we've got a few games left to play so the season isn't over yet.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Learning To Love Snowboarding

When I was young, I never participated in snow sports or activities. About ten years ago, my friends and I went skiing. However, I had sprained my ankle and could not ski.

It wasn't until the past five years I got another opportunity. This time I went with a group of people who wanted to go snowboarding. I took a lesson and endured some hard knocks in learning how to control my board.

Since my initial introduction, I went snowboarding about three other times. I can't say I loved the sport. It's expensive, you need to drive hours to get to the right facilities, and it hurts like heck when you fall. Going once a year or so also didn't help. Hard to apply any knowledge with something you do so infrequently.

This weekend, I'm snowboarding again for the first time in about two years. Can't say I was looking forward to it. However, after getting past my nerves, I felt like I got the hang of snowboarding. I went on some beginner slopes fives times and felt like I improved each time.

Now as I get the hang of snowboarding, it's a little bit more fun than in the past. I do look forward to my next adventures in snowboarding.

The falls still suck though! I also hate getting off the lifts. I still haven't gotten the hang of it and so did a few other people as well. Definitely have to work on that next time!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Coaching Days

In the past couple of days, I decided to upload a couple of old basketball I had to YouTube.  They were of me coaching some youth basketball teams back in 1995.   In getting the videos uploaded, I got a chance to look back at some old memories including my team's championship in 1995.

However, I also got a chance to look back at those youthful and innocent days during the 1990s overall.  Two guy friends and I devoted a lot of time to coaching during those years.  Between the three of us, we coached multiple teams and were able to win a few league and tournament championships.

But it was the memories of just being together that I appreciated.   While the three of us coached different teams, we all made efforts to go to each other's games.  If time permitted afterward, we would go out to dinner and just talk about the game or anything else that came to mind.  It wasn't always possible due to scheduling conflicts but it was fun when we did get together.  It wasn't just between the three of us friends.  The school we coached for had multiple teams and we all spent plenty of time watching other teams play as well.

As with anything, things changed over time.  By the year 2000, me and my two guy friends had stepped away from coaching.  I had burnt out and wanted to focus on other things.  My friends had intentions of starting families and that took priority.

However, recently, I caught up with my two guy friends individually.  Last week, one of them stopped by my work place for lunch.  Tonight, I watched my other friend coach his son's team in a playoff game (they won and are now in the championship).

Those coaching days were ones to remember.  Thanks to my guy friends for being part of it.   I definitely appreciate it and it was great to get a chance to reminisce about our youthful days!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Winning With Grace & Class

The Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets played in an NBA game tonight in Houston.   I was interested in the game because of Jeremy Lin.  When Linsanity occurred last season,  Lin did not get a chance to play the Warriors.  Tonight was the first time Lin faced his former hometown team as a starter.

The Rockets simply outplayed the Warriors and won 140-109.  Lin had a great game with 28 points and 9 assists.  But what got a lot of fans up in arms on both sides was the actions by both the Warriors and the Rockets.

The Rockets were shooting great all night and tied an NBA record by making 23 three pointers.   The Rockets were going for 24 but missed a few shots late in the game.  Before they got another opportunity to attempt another shot, one of their players drove in, dunked the ball and then showboated a bit.  The officials gave the Rockets player a technical.

From then on, the Warriors were very displeased.  One of the Warriors players was given a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected for trying to stop a Rockets player from shooting a three pointer.  The Warriors were then instructed to foul the Rockets before they could even attempt a three pointer.  Ultimately, the Rockets did not get an opportunity to make a 24th three pointer.

In my opinion, running up the score or having some fun at the expense of a team down 30 is a no-no. The losing team is already upset and rubbing things in does nothing to improve the situation.  While Rockets fans were calling the Warriors classless, I respectfully disagree.

My opinion is that if you have a game won, win it with some class and grace.  After all, it doesn't matter if you win a game by 1, 10, 30 or 100 points.  It's still one win.  It doesn't matter if you get your team in the record books.  It's still one win.  All records are ultimately going to be broken anyway.

I've been on all sides when it comes to these types of games.   I've coached, played and officiated blowout games.  The feeling is not good for the losing team.  If you've never been on the side of a team losing by a lot, it's a feeling you don't WANT to feel.  But if you have felt it, then you understand why you never want another team to feel the same way.

I hope all teams (professional or otherwise) takes some lessons.  One day, you or your team will get beat by a lot and then you'll understand.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Champion Vs Runner Up

Today was a big day for NFL fans in general but also for SF Bay Area football fans as well.  The San Francisco 49ers were playing the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.  The 49ers have not won a Super Bowl since 1995.  A win would have given the 49ers their sixth Super Bowl Championship in the history of the team.  Unfortunately, things didn't quite go the 49ers way and they lost 34-41.

While there will be plenty of analysis of the game over the coming days, winning a championship cements a team's place in history.   Thus the Ravens will be forever noted as the Super Bowl champions of the 2012-2013 NFL season.   But how big of a difference is there between the champion Ravens and the runner-up 49ers?

The Ravens have earned bragging rights, championship rings, endorsement money and a championship trophy.  The championship is also an important thing when judging whether certain players were "very good" or "elite".  Additionally, if any of the players on the Ravens are Hall Of Fame worthy in the future, winning a championship is taken into consideration.

But let's not forget the 49ers.  The sting of losing the game will be with the 49ers for a while.   They don't get the pride of being a Super Bowl champion.  The endorsements and other perks may not be available to them.  However, the 49ers DO GET RINGS for being the NFC Champions.  Yes, it is a consolation prize.   While most of the players may not be satisfied with being runner-ups, some players will treasure it greatly.  The good news?  For most of the players, they will get back to practice in August and get another shot to try to get back to the Super Bowl.

I always remember a story from the San Francisco Giants 2002 World Series season.  The Giants had won the National League championship and played the Anaheim Angels in the 2002 World Series.   The Giants had a chance to win their first World Series championship in 50+ years but lost to the Angels in 7 games.  While it was a disappointment to all involved,  a veteran player (Shawon Dunston) commented a few years later that he was proud of his National League championship ring.  Dunston had never gotten a chance to play in the World Series until 2002 and thus chose to keep things in perspective despite the tough loss for the team.

Some years ago, I was playing on one of my church basketball leagues.   One of my friends was leading and giving a message to all the teams / players.  He asked us a pretty basic question:  "Can you remember last year's NBA champion?  How about the past 5 years?  10 years?"   Even for a basketball fan like me, I couldn't name all the NBA champions in the past years at that time.

What was the main point? From youth basketball teams, to NBA / NFL teams and the teams in my adult leagues, everyone wants to be a champion.  Yet, even if a team wins (or loses) a championship, a few months later, it will be mostly forgotten over time except for those involved and the fans.

As a fan, I was disappointed the 49ers couldn't win the Super Bowl.  So I can imagine how the players might feel.  However, I hope they take this experience in perspective and realize how much of a blessing it was to JUST PLAY in the Super Bowl.   Never take it for granted that you will get another chance to play again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Grace Lee Project

There is a very popular Asian-American blog (Angry Asian Man) published by a guy in Los Angeles.  The blog compiles a lot of news and other happenings in the Asian American community at large.

One day, around July or August of 2004, there was an interesting posting.  A lady by the name of "Grace Lee" was filming a documentary called "The Grace Lee Project".   The goal of the documentary was to explore many different Grace Lee's around the world.   The director felt the name "Grace Lee" was pretty generic but did a name define a person?  Of course not.  So, she sought out many different Grace Lee's to interview for the documentary.  On that quest, the director had heard about a particular Grace Lee in the SF Bay Area and decided to have a note posted on the Angry Asian Man blog.

As it turned out, I knew of the Grace Lee the director was looking for.  I made a decision to reach out to the director and tell her what I knew of the person she was looking for.  We met up at some point in August 2004 and I was interviewed for about an hour or so.

About six months later, "The Grace Lee Project" made it's debut at the SF Asian American Film Festival in March of 2005.   The documentary would go around the film festival circuit, be released on DVD and play on the Sundance Cable channel for a time.

My hour long interview was edited and condensed to about five minutes though my Grace Lee is featured fairly prominently in the film.   I understood the editing because my knowledge of Grace Lee was a little broad and not the most specific.  I think there were other people that could have made better subjects BUT I was the one who knew and volunteered.

All in all, the experience was interesting.  It's a rare thing for a "regular guy" like me to be in a documentary that has played all over the world.  In fact, there have been acquaintances (college aged) who have mentioned that they saw the documentary (and me) in one of their Asian-American studies classes.

If you're curious, check out the film trailer here:

The Grace Lee Project Trailer

The Grace Lee Project